High praise flows in after death of author Bradbury
By Michael Thurston, AFP
June 8, 2012, 12:35 am TWN
LOS ANGELES--Tributes poured in Wednesday for science fiction writer Ray Bradbury, author of dystopian post-war classics including "Fahrenheit 451," who died aged 91.
U.S. President Barack Obama led praise for Bradbury, seen as one of the genre's greatest authors, who died Tuesday in Los Angeles after an unspecified "lengthy illness" according to his publisher HarperCollins.
"His gift for storytelling reshaped our culture and expanded our world," said Obama.
"But Ray also understood that our imaginations could be used as a tool for better understanding, a vehicle for change, and an expression of our most cherished values."
Director Steven Spielberg added: "He was my muse for the better part of my sci-fi career. He lives on through his legion of fans. In the world of science fiction and fantasy and imagination he is immortal."
In all, the award-winning writer penned nearly 600 short stories and 50 books, including 1950's "The Martian Chronicles" about human attempts to colonize Mars and the unintended consequences.
Bradbury's most famous work, 1953's "Fahrenheit 451," was a Cold War-era warning of the evils of censorship and thought control in a totalitarian state. It reached a worldwide audience as a film adapted by Francois Truffaut in 1966.
"In a career spanning more than 70 years, Ray Bradbury has inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create," HarperCollins said in a statement.
He was not the first to examine the dual potential for good and bad in science and technology, but he sought out a larger audience.
Before Bradbury, science fiction had mostly been published in pulp magazines, aiming for mass-circulation magazines such as Mademoiselle and The Saturday Evening Post.
He helped bring modern science fiction into the literary mainstream. More than eight million copies of his books have been sold in 36 languages.
Ray Douglas Bradbury was born Aug. 22, 1920 — an event he claimed to remember — in Waukegan, Illinois, the third son of a telephone lineman and Swedish immigrant Esther Marie Bradbury.
The family moved to Los Angeles, where Bradbury attended Los Angeles High School and joined the drama club with plans to become an actor.